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Reuben Fowler Big Band: Steely Dan's 'Black Cow' Charity Single

Reuben Fowler Big Band

Steely Dan’s ‘Black Cow’

Ubuntu Music – UBU0013

“Aja, the album, was my introduction to Steely Dan. I think it’s now relevant that in some way this project be dedicated to the memory of co-founder Walter Becker, who recently passed away. Thanks for the music Walter!”

-Reuben Fowler

 Reuben is a 28-year-old trumpeter, composer and arranger based in London. He is the recipient of the 2012 Kenny Wheeler Prize, the 2012 Musicians Benevolent Peter Whittingham Award and the Jazz Services Recording Support Scheme. From touring the world with Boy George to leading his own Big Band, Reuben is never short ideas.

His latest, celebrating the 40th birthday of arguably one of the finest contemporary albums of all time--Steely Dan’s Aja--features 22 musicians collaborating to perform Black Cow, a Steely Dan masterpiece. Among those participating are The Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart/vocals, Paul Booth/sax and Jason Rebello/keys.

As Reuben explains, “I have to say, as the name of the project suggests, we recorded this piece as a fairly faithful arrangement with the sole intention of celebrating 40 years of Aja, an album I have lived with and loved for a very long time.”

 ‘Black Cow’, the single, is a digital stream and download release only, on Ubuntu Music, and can be found on all major digital/streaming platforms throughout the world (such as Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal). All proceeds will be donated to Cancer Research’s oesophageal cancer unit, in memory of the passing of Walter Becker, co-founder and guitarist of Steely Dan.

“We started this project around eight months ago”, continues Fowler. “Sadly, within those eight months one half of the Donald Fagen/Walter Becker partnership that created ‘Steely Dan’ as we know it passed away. Martin Hummel and I felt that this was the right thing to do to preserve the original spirit of the project while doing something in Walter’s memory.””

 “I was first introduced Reuben’s idea late one night at Ronnie Scott’s and never stopped thinking about it since”, says Ubuntu’s Director, Martin Hummel. “It’s the right time to remind ourselves of just how brilliant this music is and to celebrate its genius. And Reuben, along with his  all-star Big Band, is just the guy to make it all happen.”

Future plans call for a possible album of Steely Dan/Donald Fagen material, along with a supporting tour in 2020.


Single Release: Out Now

All proceeds will be donated to Cancer Research’s oesophageal cancer unit, in memory of the passing of Walter Becker, co-founder and guitarist of Steely Dan


“...I remember seeing the great Count Basie at a matinee at Birdland, with the great Sonny Payne on drums. When the whole band pumped out one of those thirteenth chords, you could feel the breeze on your face.”

-Donald Fagen, ‘Eminent Hipsters’ (2013)


The jazz influence in Steely Dan’s music is unquestionable. A self-confessed jazz nerd, Donald Fagen spends much of his book, ‘Eminent Hipsters’, waxing lyrically over the effortlessly hip sounds of Henry Mancini and the ‘tight arrangements’ of the Boswell Sisters. It seemed a natural progression that some day the music he crafted with his partner Walter Becker would find its way back onto the music stands of a full big band…while preserving the understatedly cool musical signature that defines Steely Dan.